If you’re a parent or guardian of a child, you want to know how to best care for them. You need to understand how to best support them as they grow and learn. For some disorders, a medical test can determine a diagnosis and help direct parents in treatment. However, when you ask how to diagnosis autism, you’re not given a definitive test. This can be daunting for some parents seeking answers and guidance on how to care for their children. But when you learn how to diagnose autism and find effective programs for your child, your mind is put at ease.
How to Diagnose Autism Professionally
While everyone’s knee-jerk reaction to asking a question is to ask the internet, this isn’t always the best practice. Helpful information lives online, but an accurate diagnosis can only come from a medical professional. If you believe your child or loved one is in need of autism spectrum disorder treatment programs, you need to visit a doctor for a proper diagnosis. Instead of using a medical test, the doctor will review and evaluate the behaviors, actions, and overall development of the child to determine if they have the disorder.
ASD is recognizable beginning at age 18 months, but a reliable diagnosis can be made by a medical professional around the age of two. Unfortunately, many children fail to receive a proper diagnosis until years later, leading to less effective treatment and support. The sooner you see a professional to learn how to diagnose autism, the sooner your child can begin an early intervention program.
Signs to Look for in Diagnosing Autism
Perhaps the best method to assist in diagnosing autism is educating oneself on the early warning signs of ASD.. While not everyone along the autism spectrum will exhibit the same symptoms, there are some common signs to look out for. These signs can develop at two years of age or earlier and include:
- Avoiding eye contact
- Having little interest in other children or adults
- Limited display of language
- Getting upset by minor changes in routine
- Unusual or repetitive behaviors
Children can also be at a higher risk of developing ASD if they had a low birth weight, environmental exposure to lead (frequently in lead-based paint), and a family history of ASD. It’s recommended that developmental and behavioral screening is conducted for all children to put caregivers in the best position possible to monitor the possible development of ASD. Screening children at 9, 18, and 30 months can help ensure that ASD is detected as soon as possible, which means that therapy and treatment can begin as early as possible when it is most effective.
Screening and Evaluation
As parents learn how to diagnose autism, they learn about the two steps doctors take to come to their diagnosis. The first step is conducting a developmental screening of where the child stands on the development timeline. During this screening, doctors may interact with the child to see how they respond, move, play, and behave. They might also ask parents questions regarding how the child moves, plays, and communicates at home. This will help them to determine if the child is behind in development based on their age.
Every child should visit their doctor for regular checkups to determine if their health and development are on the proper timeline. Ages for these appointments tend to be:
- Nine months
- 18 months
- 24-30 months
During the 18-months and 24-month visit, children tend to be screened for ASD. More appointments might be necessary if the doctor believes the child is behind in their development.
The second step in diagnosing autism is a comprehensive evaluation. This step is more in-depth involving interviews with parents or guardians, a closer look at the behavior of the child, and possible testing. This can include:
- Screenings for vision and hearing
- Neurological testing
- Genetic testing
By gathering this information, doctors are then able to either make a proper diagnosis or refer parents to other specialists or professionals. Once parents receive a diagnosis, they are able to learn more about autism spectrum disorder and how to best support their child through specialized programs.
Finding Support through Ascend Autism
If you’re still unsure about how to diagnose autism or have questions regarding care, it’s time to turn to Ascend Autism. We offer effective and compassionate programs to help and support both children and their parents. To learn more about our services, contact Ascend Autism today by calling 877.323.8668. Our team is ready to help.